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Category Archives: Bread

Blueberry Oat Scones

I’m a big fan of Claire Ptak and her bakery in London. It was a delight to visit last time I was able to travel to the UK, pre Covid! I love her book “The Violet Bakery Cookbook”, and some of the recipes in it have inspired this one.

These tasty morsels are a cross between scones and biscuits. They are quite dense, with ground rolled oats and blueberries.

The mixture is very crumbly and will be difficult to bring together into a dough, particularly with the frozen blueberries. But don’t worry, just pat the mixture into shape and by resting it, you can cut the rounds from the mixture.

Here’s my recipe. This makes 12 smallish scones. You could double the quantities for larger, more substantial scones.

Ingredients 
100g rolled oats
150g plain flour
3/4 tsp bicarbonate of soda 
1/2 baking powder 
1/2 tsp salt 
50g raw sugar or brown sugar
Zest of half an orange
125g cold unsalted butter cut into 1 cm chunks
150g creme fraiche
125g frozen blueberries 

Method
Preheat the oven to 170 degrees C fan forced. Line a baking sheet with baking paper.

Blitz the rolled oats in a food processor until finely ground. Mix all the dry ingredients plus the orange zest in a bowl or in a food processor. Cut in the cold butter by hand until the mixture resembles large breadcrumbs, or you can continue to use a food processor on pulse, but be careful not to overwork the dough.

Quickly stir in the creme fraiche until just mixed in. Stir in the frozen blueberries.

Turn the mixture out onto a floured board, and pat into a square about 3 or 4cms thick. Rest for 5 minutes at least, even 10 minutes.

Using a 6cm cutter, cut out rounds and place onto the baking sheet. You will probably get 8 or 9 from the dough, then you will need to gather up the remains of the dough and pat together (don’t re-roll) before cutting out the last few rounds.

Bake for 25-30 minutes until the rounds are brown on top. You could check after 20 minutes to see how they are coming along. Take out of the oven and wait until the oat scones are cool before serving.

Serve on their own – they are sweet enough – or with homemade berry jam and Greek yoghurt.

Walnut and Sour Cherry Sourdough

I haven’t put up any posts on sourdough bread recently, which is surprising as I make a loaf one a week or so. Possibly because bread making is so much a part of my routine and I am making pretty similar loaves each week.

However recently I have been experimenting with nut and fruit sourdough – bread that’s somewhere between a savoury and a sweet loaf. I think my last couple of loaves have hit the nail on the head – full of earthy flavours of walnuts and the sweet/sour taste of dried sour cherries. I like to include a small amount another fruit too – either raisins or golden raisins, to add a little more sweetness.

The recipe is my go-to sourdough process with modifications to allow for the addition of the walnuts and dried fruit.

Ingredients

425g strong flour

150g sourdough starter

300g water

10g salt

75g walnuts

75g sour cherries

50g raisins or golden raisins

Method

Mix
Measure the flour, sourdough starter and water into a large bowl. Don’t add salt just yet. Roughly mix to a shaggy dough with a wooden spoon or dough whisk.

Autolyse
Cover with a plastic shower cap or plastic bag or tea towel and leave for 30 minutes so the mixture can autolyse.

Knead and Prove
Add the salt to the mixture. Using an electric mixer like a Kitchenaid, and the dough hook, knead on low speed for about 10 minutes or until the dough windowpanes when stretched.

Remove the dough from the bowl of the mixer and fold in the walnuts and fruit. I usually do this mixing in the nuts and fruit in 3 or 4 handfuls. Stretch the dough over the ingredients each time you add a handful. Don’t stress about having the fruit and nuts completely evenly distributed.

Cover the dough again and leave somewhere warm to prove for about 4 hours. After this first prove the dough should have noticeably increased in size, but not doubled.

Pre-shape
Carefully remove the dough from the bowl with help of a dough scraper onto an unfloured work surface. Definitely no flour needed! I use an oversized wooden board, but a bench top will work too. Sprinkle a very little water on the surface. The dough will be a bit delicate, so no rough treatment. Slide the scraper underneath the dough, lifting it from underneath. You will feel the scraper catch the dough as it lifts it up. I try not to remove the scraper, just move it round all of the dough in a circle. Sometimes the scraper sticks, and you need to pull it out, remove the sticky dough, and then go under again, but the more you move around the dough, the tighter the dough becomes and the less likely to stick. Do this circular movement with the scraper a few times until the dough forms a round, wobbly ball that roughly holds its shape. Leave for 20-30 minutes to let the gluten relax.

Shape
It can be tricky to shape a loaf so full of fruit and nuts, so shape carefully and don’t be too aggressive with the dough. You are shaping the dough into a boule or round loaf.

Lightly flour your surface and your hands. Flip the pre-shaped dough over onto the floured surface.

Imagine the round of dough is a clock face. Take one edge of the dough at 12 o’clock and gently pull towards you, and fold into the centre of the dough. Move the dough around to 3 o’clock and pull and fold again. Move to 6 o’clock, then 9 o’clock, pulling and folding. Do this process a couple of times until the dough feels tight and a little bouncy. Scoop the dough into curved hands and rock the dough backwards and forwards on the floured surface several times until the dough feels tight and smooth.

Carefully move the dough into a round proving basket, sprinkled with flour, with the smooth side of the dough on the bottom and the seam side on top.

Second Prove
While you can prove your dough for 2-3 hours at room temperature, I advocate the retarded or fridge prove, and this method serves me well. Leave the dough at room temperature for an hour then place in the fridge for 8-12 hours. Proving in the fridge at night allows you to bake your bread first thing the next morning.

Score and Bake This bread is baked in a round cast iron pot. Sprinkle a handful of semolina inside the cast iron pot. Pre-heat your oven to really hot – 240 degrees C. Put the pot in the oven when you turn it on and leave for 30 minutes.

Once the oven is hot, turn your dough out of the proving basket onto a thin flat baking tray or peel, dusted with semolina. The nice side of the dough is now on top. Open the oven and carefully take off the lid of the pre-heated pot. You can then slide the shaped dough into the hot pot.

Now score the dough using a lame or razor blade or sharp knife. Scoring with a cross is good, or you can score with 2 parallel slashes, giving the bread more of an oval shape.

Put the lid back on the pot and close the oven door. Turn the oven down to 220 degrees C. Bake for 30 minutes, then remove the lid and bake for a further 25-30 minutes with the lid off. The loaf should be a nice burnished brown, but if it looks too dark after 25 minutes take it out.

Remove the bread to a wire rack or board and leave to cool for an hour before cutting.

Serve with a lot of good butter. This bread doesn’t need jam but it’s up to you! It would also be good with a nice cheddar, or perhaps cream cheese or Brie or Camembert.

Hot Smoked Salmon Club Sandwich

This hot smoked salmon sandwich is Jamie Oliver inspired. The recipe is infinitely variable to make all kinds of different, delicious sandwiches.

Try it with leg ham or roast beef. Make it veggie by using halloumi instead of the salmon. Add a few pickles to the sandwich, or add condiments like chutney, onion or chilli jam, or even try it with pesto or hummus!

Ingredients

4 slices of streaky bacon

4 slices of sourdough bread

1 ripe tomato

1 ripe avocado

2 tablespoons home made or whole egg bought mayonnaise

1 tablespoon of basil or coriander leaves, bashed, stirred through the mayonnaise (optional)

200g hot smoked salmon (available from the deli section of supermarkets)

A handful of lettuce leaves or rocket

A few squeezes of lemon juice

Sea salt and black pepper

Method

Place the bacon in a cold frying pan, turn on the heat to medium and fry the bacon until crispy and cooked through, then remove from the pan. Turn off the heat.

Immediately put the bread slices into the still warm pan in the bacon fat to soak up the bacon flavour.

Cut the tomato into slices. Cut the avocado in half, take out the stone and peel each half. Cut the avocado into slices.

Now assemble the sandwich.

Spread the toasted sourdough slices with the mayonnaise.

Put two slices of toasted bread side by side and layer with the bacon rashers, tomato, avocado, chunks of the salmon and the lettuce or rocket. Squeeze lemon juice over the whole lot and add a grind or two of sea salt and black pepper.

Top each one with the remaining slices of toast. Eat and enjoy!

Totally Orange Chelsea Buns

We all love Chelsea buns, myself included. I’ve made a lot! I’ve posted a couple of versions here and also here.

Yesterday I made sourdough and had left over sourdough starter. It is always a dilemma – what to do with your sourdough starter discard.

So I made Chelsea buns, using the left over starter, and a little commercial yeast as well. But you could totally make these buns using just yeast – we don’t all have a sourdough starter on hand! Use 7g yeast and up the milk to 150g.

These Chelseas are heavily flavoured with orange, in the dough and in the filling – juice, zest and candied orange. And some orange liqueur as well!

Very orange and delicious.

Ingredients

Dough

400g strong flour

125g sourdough starter discard

3g yeast

8g salt

50g caster sugar

2 free range eggs, at room temperature

100g tepid milk

Zest and juice of half an orange*

50g unsalted butter

Filling

50g sour cherries

50g cranberries

50g sultanas

50mls orange liqueur

50g very soft butter

50g golden caster sugar or raw sugar

100g marzipan

1 tablespoon finely chopped candied orange

Golden Syrup Glaze

2 tablespoons golden syrup heated to use as glaze

Orange Icing

Juice of 1/4 orange

100g icing sugar or enough icing sugar to make a dripping icing

* a blood orange if you can get it

Method

Put all the dough ingredients except the butter into the bowl of an electric mixer such as a KitchenAid. Mix with a dough hook or wooden spoon to a rough dough, cover and leave for 30 minutes to autolyse.

Knead the dough using the dough hook of the electric mixer for about 10 minutes or until smooth and elastic.

Add the butter, in small pieces, which needs to be very soft. You can soften the butter in the microwave. Mix using the dough hook until the dough is smooth, soft and windowpanes.

Cover the dough with cling wrap or plastic shower cap and leave to prove somewhere warm for 2-3 hours. (If using all yeast without sourdough starter, leave to rise for 1-2 hours only). The dough should have risen, if not quite doubled in size.

Line a large baking tin with baking paper. I used a 24cm (9.5 inch) round spring form tin, but you could equally use a rectangular 22cm x 23cm (9 inch x 13 inch) tin.

Remove the proven dough from the bowl onto a lightly floured board. Using floured hands, gently stretch the dough to a large rough rectangle.

For the filling, soak the sour cherries, cranberries and sultanas in the liqueur for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Spread the very soft butter all over the dough rectangle. Sprinkle the sugar over the butter. Scatter the chopped marzipan, chopped candied orange and then the dried fruit over the dough.

Now roll up the dough along the long side, as carefully as you can.

Cut the long roll into 12 even pieces. Place the pieces into the baking tin, cut side up, packing them in snugly together. If using a round tin, make a ring of buns in the tin and then put the remaining buns in the centre.

Put the tin into a large plastic bag to prove. Place into the fridge overnight or for 8-12 hours.

Half an hour before baking, preheat the oven to 160 degrees C fan or 180 degrees C non fan forced. Add a cast iron pan of water to the bottom of the oven to create steam for baking.

Take the tin out of the plastic bag and place the buns in the oven. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the tops of the buns are golden brown but not burnt.

Once baked, remove from the oven. Brush the tops of the buns with the warmed golden syrup.

When cool, remove the buns from the tin, peeling off the baking paper.

To make the orange icing, mix the orange juice with the icing sugar. You may need more or less icing sugar – use enough to make an icing of dripping consistency.

Once the buns are quite cool, drizzle the orange icing over the tops of the buns.

Best eaten on the day!

Sourdough Cinny Scrolls

I love sourdough and I love cinnamon scrolls so I have been keen to develop a cinnamon scrolls recipe using the great flavours of sourdough.

It’s been a labour of love, with lots of trial and error, but my latest version is really good and I’m very happy!

Like any sourdough recipe, it takes a bit of time, but those gorgeous soft brioche style scrolls are well worth the extra time!

The scrolls are filled with a butter brown sugar cinnamon mixture and sit in some gooey caramel while baking. Once baked the tops glazed with golden syrup and finally, when cool, drizzled with lemon icing.

Ingredients

Dough

400g strong flour

200g sourdough starter

8g salt

50g caster sugar

3 free range eggs, at room temperature

100g tepid milk

100g unsalted butter

Caramel Sauce

75g unsalted butter

125g light brown sugar

50g maple syrup

Cinnamon Filling

150g light brown sugar

1 heaped tablespoon ground cinnamon

100g unsalted butter, very soft

Golden Syrup Glaze

2 tablespoons golden syrup heated to use as glaze

Lemon Icing

Juice of 1/4 lemon

200g icing sugar or enough icing sugar to make a dripping icing

Method

In a large bowl add all the dough ingredients except the butter. Mix to a rough dough, cover and leave for 30 minutes to autolyse.

Using a dough hook of an electric mixer, knead the dough for about 10 minutes or until smooth and silky.

Now add butter, in small pieces, which needs to be very soft. You can soften the butter in the microwave. Mix using the dough hook until the mixture is smooth and elastic. Cover the dough with plastic wrap and leave to prove somewhere warm for 4 hours. The dough should have risen slightly.

To make the caramel, melt the butter, brown sugar and maple syrup in a small saucepan over a low heat.

Line a large baking pan with baking paper. I use 22cm x23cm (9 inch x 13 inch) pan. Spoon the caramel sauce over the base. You don’t have to use all the sauce – the more you use the gooier the scrolls will be. I sometimes only use half the caramel for a less gooey bottom.

Remove the proven dough from the bowl onto a lightly floured board. Using floured hands, gently stretch the dough to a rough rectangle, slightly less than the size of your pan.

For the cinnamon filling, mix the brown sugar and cinnamon together.

Spread the very soft butter all over the dough rectangle. Sprinkle the brown sugar and cinnamon over the butter.

Now roll up the dough along the long side, as carefully as you can, as the dough is very soft.

Cut the long roll into 12 even pieces. Place the pieces into the baking pan, cut side up, on top of the caramel sauce, packing them in snugly together.

Put the pan into a large plastic bag to prove. Leave at room temperature for an hour then place into the fridge overnight or for 8-12 hours. Or, if you wanted to prove more quickly, leave in a warm place for 2 hours. I recommend the fridge prove as it really improves the flavour.

Half an hour before baking, preheat the oven to 160 degrees C fan or 180 degrees C non fan forced. Add a pan of water to the bottom of the oven to create steam for baking.

Take the pan out of the plastic bag and place the scrolls in the oven. Bake for 30-40 minutes, until the tops of the scrolls are golden brown but not burnt.

Once baked, remove from the oven. Brush the tops of the scrolls with the warmed golden syrup.

To make the lemon icing, mix the lemon juice with the icing sugar. You may need more or less icing sugar – use enough to make an icing of dripping consistency.

One the scrolls are quite cool, drizzle the lemon icing over the tops of the scrolls.

Remove the scrolls from the pan and peel off the baking paper. The scrolls will be sticky with the caramel sauce underneath.

Best eaten on the day while the scrolls are gooey. They can be microwaved gently the next day if you have any left over!

Barbecue Pizza

Pizza on the barbecue is a great invention if you want a crusty pizza with a charred edge. I developed these recipes a while back, and while I now make pizza in my Ooni Koda 16 pizza oven, barbecue pizza is still a go-to method for a crowd. It’s also easier than cooking pizza in a conventional oven!

If you haven’t got a pizza oven, wood fired or otherwise, give the barbecue method a go! But you do need a barbecue with a hood, as this method relies on creating a really hot oven environment to cook the pizzas quickly.

Making pizza on the barbecue is really easy. I was delighted with how quick and easy grilling the dough on the barbecue is.

You make a normal pizza yeast dough – then grill it for a minute each side on the bars of a very hot barbecue. Then dress the grilled pizza with your toppings of choice, place on a baking tray and heat on the barbecue on medium heat, with the hood down to simulate an oven.

Fresh, hot, grilled pizza made right in front of your friends! You could even do “make your toppings” with everyone customizing their own pizza.

Really anything goes for toppings – these recipes are just some suggestions that worked for me.

Ingredients
Dough 

2 ¼ tsp dry yeast
1 cup warm water (40.5 – 46 degrees C)
2 to 2 ½ cups Tipo 00 flour, plus more for dusting
1 tsp sea salt
Extra-virgin olive oil

Toppings
Roast Pumpkin, Avocado, Cherry Tomato, Sugar Snap Peas, Spring Onion and Taleggio Pizza

1/4 butternut pumpkin, baked in pieces, skin on
1 avocado, sliced
A handful of cherry tomatoes, halved 
A few sugar snap peas 
2 spring onions finely chopped
A few slices of taleggio cheese
Rosemary sprigs to garnish

Pear, Artichoke and Blue Cheese Pizza

1 cup grated cheddar cheese
2 spring onions finely chopped
1 pear, sliced
2 -3 artichoke hearts, sliced
A handful of crumbled blue cheese (to taste)
Rosemary sprigs

Method
Pizza
Dissolve the yeast in the warm water in a large bowl and let stand for 5 minutes. Stir in most of the flour and the salt, stirring until smooth. Continue adding the flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, stirring until the dough comes away from the bowl but is still sticky.

Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead with lightly floured hands. Knead the dough until it is smooth, elastic and soft, but a little sticky, about 10 minutes. Shape the dough into a ball and transfer to bowl lightly oiled with extra virgin olive oil, turn to coat. Cover with cling wrap and let rise in a warm place until it doubles in volume, about 2-3 hours. Press it with your finger to see if it’s done; an indent should remain.

Remove the dough from the bowl, divide in half and shape each half into a ball. This quantity makes 2 small pizzas. Or leave as 1 ball for 1 large pizza.

Brush with more oil and set aside for 30 minutes.

Heat your barbecue to very high.

Stretch and shape the ball/s of dough into a rectangle or round – or any rustic shape! Brush the top/s with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Let rest for 15 minutes. Place on the grill directly on the bars, oiled side down, and grill until lightly golden brown, about 1 minute. Flip over and grill for 1 minute longer.

Place the pizza/s on a baking tray and apply your toppings:

For the Roast Pumpkin, Avocado, Cherry Tomato, Sugar Snap Peas, Spring Onion and Taleggio Pizza: 

Scatter over the roast pumpkin, avocado, cherry tomatoes, sugar snap peas, spring onion and taleggio.

For the Pear, Artichoke and Blue Cheese Pizza:

Scatter over cheddar cheese, spring onions, sliced pear, sliced artichoke hearts and crumbled blue cheese.

Return the pizzas to the barbecue, turn down the heat  to medium, close the cover and cook until the cheese has melted and the pears/veggies are crisp and a little charred – about 2 or 3 minutes.

Remove the pizzas from the barbecue and garnish with rosemary sprigs. Slice and serve piping hot!

Healthy Banana Bread

Everyone loves banana bread! But the banana bread you get in cafes is really banana cake – too sweet and too “cakey” in texture! I picked up this recipe from a television show Hemsley +Hemsley: Healthy and Delicious. The Helmsley sisters cook food that is natural and healthy – grain, gluten and refined sugar free.

This banana bread is made with coconut flour and coconut oil. The sweetness comes from the bananas and some treacle and golden syrup. It does have 3 eggs. The bread cuts into 12 slices easily, so I think that distributes the extra calories quite well!

It’s a much healthier bread than the usual sweet and cake-like cafe offerings.

As usual I made my version with a few tweaks. You could really add anything you like – nuts or seeds would be great, and honey would be a great sweetener too. The treacle in my version gave a lovely, malty flavour and rich dark colour.

And it’s a throw-in-the-food-processor recipe so it takes no time to prepare.

One more thing – it keeps forever! It doesn’t dry out, and keeps really moist.


Ingredients

350g or 3 medium size bananas, mashed

60g  coconut flour

1 /2 tbs cinnamon

1 pinch salt

3 free-range eggs

50g coconut oil, melted

1 tsp vanilla extract

1.5 tsp bi-carbonate of soda

1 tbs apple cider vineagr

1/2 tbs treacle

1/2 tbs golden syrup

Method

Preheat oven to 180 degrees C.  Line a loaf tin with baking paper.

Put all the ingredients (except the golden syrup) into a food processor and whizz until smooth.  Spoon into the prepared tin. Drizzle over the golden syrup onto the top of the mixture.

Bake for 50 minutes. Cool on a wire rack completely before turning out of the tin.

I served my banana bread with cashew butter and fresh figs. The bread is quite sweet, so the cashew butter works well. Peanut, or any nut butter would be fine.

Sourdough Hybrid Hot Cross Buns

I love Easter and all the baking opportunities it provides. There are so many traditional recipes with strong cultural or religious origins, and I’m as fascinated with the history of the recipes as much as with the delicious pastries and bakes themselves.

But hot cross buns are my favourite. As a bread baker I guess this is to be expected! I always make them at Easter, having a go at a different recipe each year. But in 2021 I decided to develop my own version. I have had so much experience baking with sourdough recently that I thought I could use some of that know how in a hot cross bun recipe. So this recipe is a hybrid – it uses both dry yeast and some sourdough starter. The result are well risen, light and flavourful buns.

The recipe makes 16 – but if you only want to bake 12, I have included the quantities to bake a dozen – see below.

For the observant readers who have counted 15 buns in the photos, I actually managed to get 17 buns from the dough! So I decided to bake two buns on another tray.

Ingredients

Buns

250g mix of sultanas and raisins

40mls Pedro Ximinez or port or muscat

625g strong flour

7g dried yeast

12g salt

125g sourdough starter

Zest of 1/2 an orange

Zest of 1/2 a lemon

I teaspoon each of ground cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice

1/2 teaspoon each of ground ginger and cloves

50g brown sugar

30g golden syrup

2 medium free-range eggs, well beaten

60g unsalted butter, in small pieces

200g full fat milk at room temperature

150g apple juice

50g candied orange peel

Cross

75g flour

75g water

3 teaspoons caster sugar

Glaze

50g caster sugar

50g golden syrup

100g water

Method

Soak the raisins and sultanas in the Pedro Ximinez or port or muscat for up to 3 hours to plump up the fruit.

Starting with the flour, add all the other ingredients (except dried fruit and candied orange peel) to a large bowl. Just make sure the yeast is on one side of the bowl and salt on the other.

Mix everything roughly together using a wooden spoon, just to amalgamate the ingredients. Leave to rest for 20 minutes.

Using the dough hook of an electric mixer, knead on low speed for 10 minutes until the dough is soft, shiny and passes the windowpane test. This dough is initially quite wet, so it will take 10 minutes kneading to bring it to that lovely elastic consistency you are looking for.

Add the sultanas, raisins and any residual alcohol that hasn’t soaked into the fruit, and the candied orange peel. Mix for about a minute on low to distribute the fruit evenly through the dough.

Remove the bowl from the machine and cover with a plastic bag or tea towel. Leave to prove in a warm place for 2 hours.

The dough should have doubled in size. Carefully remove the risen dough from the bowl and place on a board or bench top which has been lightly floured. Putting a little more flour on your hands to stop the dough from sticking, flatten the dough to a rough rectangle, and fold in half lengthways. Cut in two and roll each half into a sausage.

You should get 16 hot cross buns from the mixture. Take one sausage and divide into two, then divide each into 4 pieces.

To shape your buns, take one piece and roll into a ball, and with your cupped hand over the top of the ball, keep rolling on the board or bench top till you feel the dough tightening and developing a nice ball shape.

Repeat with remaining balls. Do the same thing with the other sausage.

Place the 16 balls – now buns – onto a large baking tray lined with baking paper.

Cover with a large plastic bag or a tea towel and leave to prove again. I prove this second time in the fridge overnight. You can also prove at room temperature for an hour or more until the buns have grown a little in size. (They don’t get huge – this happens in the oven.)

Preheat your oven to 180 degrees C fan forced or 190 degrees C non fan for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, make the crosses by mixing the flour, water and sugar in small bowl. Use a bit of judgement here – you want a paste that is not too runny, but not so stiff that it can’t be piped. So add/subtract flour and water to get the right consistency. Fill a piping bag or a zip lock bag that you can cut the corner off with the cross mixture, and pipe lines across each row of buns, then pipe another set of lines at right angles to the first set to make the crosses.

If you’re in any doubt how to do this, YouTube has how-to videos!

Put the tray into the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes until the buns are a dark golden brown.

As you can see from the colour of the buns in the photos, my buns are a deep burnished colour. But they are soft and moist inside!

While the buns are baking, make the glaze. Put the caster sugar, golden syrup and water into a small saucepan and heat gently on the stovetop stirring until the sugar is dissolved. Simmer for 2 or 3 minutes until the glaze has thickened slightly.

Once the buns are cooked, remove from the oven. Brush the warm syrup over the warm buns, making sure you brush the sides as well.

When the buns have cooled slightly, eat with lashings of good quality butter. The next day, split and toast and serve with, of course, more butter!

Hot cross buns freeze well too, so make a pile that you can store in the freezer and reheat as necessary.

NB Reheat in the oven, the buns don’t do well in the microwave.

Quantities for 12 hot cross buns

(Some quantities stay the same as it doesn’t make a huge difference to alter these quantities).

200g mix of sultanas and raisins

40mls Pedro Ximinez or port or muscat

450g strong flour

7g dried yeast

10g salt

100g sourdough starter

Zest of 1/2 an orange

Zest of 1/2 a lemon

I teaspoon each of ground cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice

1/2 teaspoon each of ground ginger and cloves

40g brown sugar

20g golden syrup

2 medium free-range eggs, well beaten

50g unsalted butter, in small pieces

150g full fat milk at room temperature

100g apple juice

50g candied orange peel

Cross

75g flour

75g water

3 teaspoons caster sugar

Glaze

50g caster sugar

50g golden syrup

100g water

Blueberry, Almond and Orange Cake



A couple of posts back I revisited my Blueberry Hazelnut Cake. So I really had to make another blueberry cake straight after posting that recipe as blueberries are everywhere and are so inexpensive! I picked up 3 punnets from a fruit stall in the city for $5 – such good value!

This is a riff from the original recipe, this time using ground almonds and orange. Orange slices make a great decoration for the top of the cake too. Like the original cake, I made a quick blueberry jam to spoon over the top. Better then frosting, and it really complements the blueberries inside the cake.

This is an incredibly moist cake, because of the blueberries and the Greek yoghurt. The cooking time is 45 minutes, but you may need to give it a little longer if it’s still not quite baked when you check using the skewer test.

Because it’s so moist I thought about adjusting the liquid quantities, but decided not to, as I think this cake works really well as a rich dessert, and is also a great cake for keeping. And don’t worry if it doesn’t rise that much, there is a lot of fruit in it which makes it harder to rise.

Any orange is fine for the juice and decoration – I used a blood orange as they are in season in Sydney and are so pretty!

Ingredients

125g softened butter

115g  caster sugar

1 teaspoon almond essence

2 free-range eggs

1 heaped tablespoon Greek yoghurt

100g ground almonds

100g plain flour

I teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

60ml milk

1 tablespoon orange juice

200g fresh blueberries

For the quick blueberry jam

100g blueberries

50g caster sugar

Juice of half an orange

Orange slices for decoration, if desired

Method

You can make this cake in a stand mixer, but I prefer to use a food processor. Either will work well.

I made this cake in a square cake pan with a removable base, but of course a round spring form pan is what most people will have, so that will work fine.

Preheat oven to 170 degrees C or 160 degrees C fan-forced. Grease a 20cm square pan with a removable baseif you have it, or a 20cm spring form round pan, and line the base with baking paper.

Cream butter, caster sugar and almond essence extract in a food processor.  Add the free-range eggs and process until eggs are well incorporated. Pulse in the Greek yoghurt.  Sift the ground almonds, flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda. Stir in the sifted ingredients into the mixture with a spoon, then stir in the milk and orange juice.

Fold in the fresh blueberries. Spoon into whichever cake pan you are using.

Bake for about 45 minutes, or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out clean. Check the cake after 35 or 40 minutes, and if it’s browning too quickly, place a piece of baking paper or aluminium foil over the top to prevent burning.

Meanwhile, cook the blueberries for the quick jam and the caster sugar with the orange juice in a small saucepan for a few minutes until the sugar is dissolved, the blueberries are slightly softened and the liquid slightly reduced. You can gently press on the blueberries with the back of spoon to help them release their juices.

Cool the cake completely in the pan before removing the sides/ring of the pan. As the cake is quite moist and therefore a bit delicate, carefully remove it from its base using an offset spatula or indeed an ordinary metal spatula.

Pile the blueberry “jam” onto the top of the cake. Serve with more fresh berries and orange slices if desired. I think this particular blueberry cake is fine on its own, as it’s so moist, but you could always dress it up with cream or ice cream if serving as a dessert.

Sourdough Sandwich Bread



Lately I’ve been experimenting with different types of sourdough, from wholemeal loaves to enriched white soft sourdough.

My current favourite is a wholemeal loaf that is great for sandwiches. It can be shaped as a batard in a proving basket and then baked in a pot, or equally baked in a loaf tin to make it easier to slice for the aforementioned sandwiches!

The recipe is based on my go-to sourdough method, with some tweaks for wholemeal. I have given instructions for both the batard in a cast iron pot and the loaf tin versions.

Ingredients

150g strong wholemeal flour

300g strong white flour

150g wholemeal sourdough starter

325g tepid water

2 teaspoons honey

10g salt

Method

Weighing, mixing, autolyse
Weigh both flours into a large bowl. Weigh the sourdough starter and add, followed by the water. Add the honey. Mix everything together very roughly, in order to incorporate the ingredients.

Cover the bowl and leave for 30 minutes to autolyse.  I use a clear plastic shower cap as a cover, as it fits nicely over most sized bowls. A plastic bag is fine too. The autolyse is an important step to activate fermentation. 

After the autolyse add the salt to the mixture. Now you can choose to knead the mixture using a dough hook in an electric stand mixer, knead by hand or use the stretch and fold method, essentially a no knead way of developing gluten in the dough. I strongly advise using a dough hook in a stand mixer – I have a KitchenAid which I swear by. You can really develop the gluten in the dough, which makes the dough much easier to pre-shape and then shape. *

Kneading and proving 
Using a mixer, mix the dough for 6 minutes on the lowest speed, then 4 minutes on the next speed up. The dough should be lovely and stretchy, and pass the windowpane test. If you pull and stretch a small section, it should be translucent. Cover the bowl again and leave the dough in a warm place to prove for about 4 hours. I usually do a couple stretch and folds too – one straight after mixing, and one half way through the prove. 

After the first prove of 4 hours the dough should have increased in size by about 50%.

Pre-shaping
Carefully remove the dough from the bowl with the help of a dough scraper onto an unfloured work surface. Definitely no flour needed! I use an oversized wooden board, but a bench top will work too. The dough will be stretchy, and shouldn’t be too delicate, but don’t be too rough! Slide the scraper underneath the dough, lifting it from underneath. You will feel the scraper catch the dough as it lifts it up. I try not to remove the scraper, just move it round all of the dough in a circle. Sometimes the scraper sticks, and you need to pull it out, remove the sticky dough, and then go under again, but the more you move around the dough, the tighter the dough becomes and the less likely to stick. Do this circular movement with the scraper a few times until the dough forms a round, wobbly ball that roughly holds its shape. Leave for 20-30 minutes to let the gluten relax.

Shaping
This is where you can shape for a batard in a proving basket to be baked in a pot or for a loaf tin. It’s important that you are super careful with the shaping as you don’t want to damage the dough you have worked so hard to develop.

Fo the batard shape, put the pre-shaped dough onto the work surface, lightly floured. Imagine the dough is sort of square shape. Take the two sides of the square shape that are opposite each other and gently stretch away from each other. Fold these stretched bits over each other in the centre of the dough. Turn the dough round 90 degrees and do the same with the other two sides of the square. Now that you have folded the 4 sides of the square, fold 2 of the opposing corners in the same way, and then fold the other opposing corners. Now roll up the dough like a Swiss roll, it doesn’t matter which side you roll up. Press the seam to seal.

If using a proving basket, carefully move the dough into a batard shaped proving basket, with the smooth side of the dough on the bottom and the seam side on top.

If using a loaf tin, butter a large loaf tin generously. Move the dough and place seam side down, into the tin. 

Second proving
While you can prove your dough for 2-3 hours at room temperature, I advocate the retarded or fridge prove, and this method serves me well. Leave the dough at room temperature for an hour then place in the fridge for 8-12 hours. Doing this at night works well as it allows you to bake your bread first thing the next morning.

Baking
For the pot method, pre-heat your oven to really hot – 250 degrees C. Put the pot in when you begin to pre-heat, and leave for 20-30 minutes.

Turn your dough out of the proving basket onto a thin flat baking tray or peel, well dusted with semolina. The pretty side of the dough is now on top. Open the oven and carefully take the lid of the pre-heated pot off. You can then slide the shaped dough into the hot pot.

At this point you can score the dough using a lame or razor blade. For a batard, score with 1 or 2 long cuts down the length of the dough. Put the lid back on the pot. Turn the oven to 220 degrees C or 200 degrees C fan-forced. Bake for 30 minutes, then remove the lid and bake for a further 20-30 minutes with the lid off. I have experimented endlessly with this latter baking time, and have come to the conclusion that the longer baking time gives a richer, browner loaf, which is what I prefer.

If baking in a loaf tin, pre-heat your oven to 250 degrees C 30 minutes prior to baking. If you have one, use a baking or pizza stone. Place this in the oven at the time of pre-heating. Once the 30 minutes is up, to add steam to the oven, put a cast iron pan or a baking dish with water in it in the bottom of the oven. Put the loaf tin in the oven onto the heated stone.

Turn the oven to 220 degrees C or 200 degrees C fan-forced and bake for 45-50 minutes. The loaf should be dark brown on top.

For either the batard or the loaf, once cooked, remove from the oven, take out of the pot/tin and leave to cool for an hour.

This bread, as the title of the post suggests, makes great sandwiches! It’s easy to slice into manageable sandwich slices. Great with lots of  kinds of fillings but I’m partial to egg and mayonnaise. I can strongly recommend that combination!

Of course like any good sourdough, lovely with plenty of butter and home made jam!

*If you don’t have an electric mixer, I recommend the stretch and fold method – see previous post on Sourdough, Ultimate Bread here for how to do this. As for traditional kneading, there is plenty of information on the internet to guide you.

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